Christian Mindfulness

“The spiritual practitioner is a symbolic microcosm of the world she inhabits (and transforms). – Coakley, Powers and Submissions

Does being a Christian change the way we are? In his book After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters, Bishop N.T. Wright talks about the virtuous circle, composed of the following elements:

-Scripture
-Stories
-Examples
-Community
-Practices

Indeed, he argues, being a Christian should change the way we are. To strive means to hope, and psychosis is a state of disintegration. A sort of hope filters in, but this time it is the hope that comes from being aware that you are no longer striving. The hope that you will never defeat yourself or be defeated again because you are immobilized.

In a word, this is catatonia (which I have lived through).

Mindfulness meditation perhaps saved my life, because I would make goals and then disintegrate from them and my life had become an exercise of building sandcastles only to have the next hour’s mood swing pulverize them.

Through mindfulness, I acquired an added sense that I shouldn’t have goals, which decreased my suicidality, but also put my life on hold. The 9 principles of mindfulness still inform my life, but I have adapted them into the framework of Christianity.

First, from Jon Kabatt-Zinn’s work, based on Eastern thought, they are

-Non-judging
-Patience
-A beginner’s mind
-Trust
-Non-striving
-Acceptance
-Letting go
-Gratitude

These overlap with the following Christian principles:

-Not judging
-Patience
-Only those like children will inherit the kingdom of heaven
-Faith
-Avoiding works-righteousness (we live by grace and not our own efforts)
-Instead of Acceptance: Hope
-Forgiveness
-Thanksgiving/Praise/Worshipfulness

I have shared this with some scholars and my hope is it will help them with their efforts to prevent suicide and encourage people to practice these habits in a way that doesn’t damage their Christian conscience.